Dharamkot is a bohemian destination near Mcleodganj, unlike the comparatively hustled city of Dharamshala. This little village in the midst of Dhauladhars is blissfully calm with a hippie ambiance.
While Dharamshala and Mcleodganj demand a lot of sightseeing, Dharamkot enchants a traveler to unwind at its many cafes serving delicious food and explore its natural treasures. The place is full of spiritual-seekers and peaceful travelers who are either doing some soul-searching or just enjoying in the lap of nature.
Let us look at this detailed travel guide of Dharamkot in this article.
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Located a couple of kilometers above Mcleodganj, Dharamkot hosts most of the trekkers who are going to Triund, Snowline Ilaqua (major treks in the area) and beyond. This place isn’t for the tourists on the list.
This is for people who like small walks through meadows, hikes and treks, a village vibe, a bit of meditation or pondering over life while ruminating a hummus & pita 🙂
Aura of Dharamkot grows on you gradually and one can get totally hooked on to this place only in a couple of days.
This village is one of the hubs of Israeli tourists visiting India (like a few other Himalayan hamlets). After finishing their compulsory two years of service in armed services, many youngsters from Israel take a break and come to Himalayan villages (Dharamkot being one of them) for a chilled out vacation.
Situated in Kangra district, around 6,900 feet above sea level, Dharamkot is above the hill-crest of Mcleodganj and offers beautiful views of wide Kangra valley.
Located at higher altitudes of Kangra district in Himachal Pradesh, Dharamkot has a cool climate most of the year. Summers, especially the month of June can get a bit hot here.
However, monsoon in July brings immediate respite from the heat and keeps the entire region wet till mid-September. October onward you can feel the nip in the air and winter is at peak during December – January with the likelihood of snowfall.
Best Time to visit Dharamkot
Dharamkot can be visited throughout the year and roads are accessible during all seasons. However, the best and safest months to travel are March-May if you want to avoid the heat. Or come here during October-December, if you want to avoid chilly winters. Winter months get snowfall and you can enjoy playing with snow in this part of Himachal.
February remains chilly as well, but spring onsets during March and make the weather pleasant. In my personal experience traveling there during Oct-Nov gives you the best of both worlds.
The hills are fresh green after the monsoon but the snow hasn’t set in yet. It is cold but not too chilly, just the perfect weather to trek around and explore the place.
How to Reach Dharamkot from Delhi
I have written about Dharamshala and its connectivity to Delhi and the rest of India in my previous articles. Dharamkot is 5 km away from Dharamshala and 2 km from Mcleodganj. You can either take a taxi or auto to reach Dharamkot from Dharamshala.
So, you can see that you can easily travel from Dharamshala to Dharamkot by different means of travel. Dharamkot to Mcleodganj distance is just 2 km which you can even hike as well.
As I mentioned before, Dharamshala is well connected by road, air, and train to Delhi and other major cities like Hyderabad, Mumbai, and Jaipur.
Plenty of private bus services operate for Dharamshala and Mcleodganj from Delhi, Punjab and many cities of Himachal too. From Delhi, most operators run Volvos providing a comfortable night journey.
There are multiple pickup points for these buses in Delhi, including Ramakrishna Ashram wood-fired, Majnu ka Tila, and ISBT.
Travel time could be anything between 10 to 13 hrs depending on road and weather conditions.
Though these operators provide blanket and water during the journey. I would advise you to carry an extra cover for yourself especially if you are traveling during winters.
Mostly, these journeys are safe even for solo women travelers. I have traveled on these buses many times with my female friends and alone too.
The de-boarding point for these buses is the Mcleodganj bus stop. If you like, you can make the half an hour walk till Dharamkot from here while enjoying the scenery or hire a taxi.
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The nearest train station from Dharamkot is Pathankot (93 km away). Taxis are easily available at the station to travel further, or you can pre-book a taxi too. You can also take a bus from Pathankot to reach Dharamkot.
Both state transport and private buses operate on this route. Pathankot to Dharamkot drive duration is approximately 4 hours. The overnight train journey from Delhi is a comfortable option; there are multiple trains available from Delhi that halt at Pathankot.
Those fascinated by the narrow gauge trains (toy trains) can also take the toy train from Pathankot to Kangra. Six different toy trains run from Pathankot to Baijnath / Joginder Nagar that stop at Kangra. Cabs and buses regularly ply from Kangra to reach Dharamshala.
Kangra airport located at Gaggal is 20 km away from Dharamkot. A flight from Delhi takes a little over an hour to reach here. You can easily hire a taxi from the airport to reach the hamlet of Dharamkot.
If you are traveling from cities other than Delhi, then you can fly till Chandigarh (244 km away) and then take a taxi or bus from there. Delhi to Amritsar is a comparatively cheaper flight route, Amritsar is 207 km away from Dharamkot and distance can be conveniently covered by a taxi or bus. Alternately, one could also fly into Jammu, and move to Dharamkot via taxi.
Places to Stay in Dharamkot
Dharamkot village does not have big hotels or resorts but there are plenty of homestays, budget hotels, and few backpackers hostels too. Or, if you decide to try your hand at yoga or vipassana classes then some of these centers offer pasta too. Dharamkot is full of backpackers, laid-back travelers, and spiritual seekers.
Till a few years back there weren’t as many stay-options here as you can find today. Booking in advance is recommended because the place is quite famous for foreign travelers. Dharamkot hotels or stay options have boomed up in the recent past.
Although most of the Dharamkot homestays are tiny establishments and are not even listed online anywhere for bookings. Such stays usually cost around 500 INR for one night are located higher up the village. You may land up here and look for such accommodation, which is usually hosted by locals in their homes. Personally, I feel these are basic stay-options but best for explorers as you get to experience the local life.
In addition to these, there are 3-star hotels such as Dharamkot Inn and Dev Cottage where you can get a good room with hot water, balcony and wifi in almost INR 1000-2000 per night. I would suggest not to worry much about the food as there are plenty of options to explore in the village.
A backpackers hostel with dormitory-style accommodation and shared lounges, Flugler, is also located in the heart of the village.
In my experience, you will get plenty of options to crash, eat and roam around in Dharamkot if you are comfortable with a backpacker traveling. For those who need a plusher stay, there are a couple of decent hotels too.
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Dharamkot – Things to Do
I will enlist some of the things to do, where to eat and what to see in Dharamkot.
Eat & Relax
For the simplicity of a getaway that Dharamkot offers, you will be surprised to see the variety of restaurants and cafes over here. Add to it the cuisines on offer in Dharamkot cafes – from Israeli to Italian, Indian to American. Your taste buds will thank you forever for spending a weekend at this paradise.
I can bet that you will never have a bad meal at Dharamkot. It is one of those rare places on earth which serve gourmet food so high up in the mountains. As Israeli and European travelers started staying at Dharamkot for a longer duration, the place became a second home to them and developed an ambiance of its own. It is a mixture of cultures, and you can have a taste of all these cultures here through food.
Many of the wanderers decided to stay here and have opened their restaurants and cafes, or they work at one of those. That is why you will get global flavors here, cooked by well-trained chefs.
Trek & Dine
This is the first cafe as you enter Dharamkot, the road ends here, and you would have a walk around further to explore more of the village. Here you can get American, Israeli, Indian, Oriental, and European cuisines. I was amazed to taste such a wide variety of cuisines here and all done perfectly.
I and the people I was traveling with tasted at least six dishes from three different cuisines and some beverages. Everything was delicious and tasted authentic to the respective cuisine. With good music and ambiance to keep you company, try their peanut-honey shake, any variation of pizza, hummus with falafel and mutton momos.
This one is a new baby on the block. Launched last year, Bodhi greens serves delicious vegan food at Dharamkot. Even non-vegans are also sure to relish the food here.
Located on the main road of Dharamkot, this place offers American, Italian, Indian, and Japanese dishes. It was earlier present near the main square of Mcleodganj. But it has now moved up on to the Dharamkot road. Try their smoothies, french toast, pancakes, and Tofu wraps.
If you are craving some good pizza in Dharamkot, or some coffee in the evening, then tries this cafe. A nice contemporary ambiance and an excellent view of surrounding Dhauladhars will keep charming you.
This is the most famous and loved restaurant in Dharamkot. And its reputation is justified by all means through the experience it provides you. It lies in main Dharamkot (not in the interiors), on the lane opposite the Trek and Dine restaurant.
Try their wood-fired pizza, mint tea, and hand-made pasta. The view from the seating area is very refreshing and tempts you to explore the rest of the village after filling up your tummy.
Not to be Missed – The Bhagsu Cake
When in upper Dharamshala, you can not afford to miss trying the Bhagsu cake. As you must have guessed, the cake derives its name from the local Bahgsu village, where Bhagsu falls and temple.
Developed locally, this dish comes in different variants. It has a crunchy pastry base, topped with caramel and either white chocolate, dark chocolate or milk chocolate.
Different restaurants make it in different ways, and it tastes different at every cafe. It reminds me of a bit of Banoffee pie from a few Delhi bakeries. But it doesn’t taste like Banoffee. Bhagsu cake has a character of its own.
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Walk Around & Explore in Dharamkot
Walking around the village and looking for peaceful spots, natural treasures, and chatting up with locals is an activity in itself at Dharamkot. The village itself doesn’t boast of many viewpoints or tourist sites, but it is sure to give you the much-needed rejuvenation if you enjoy your wanderings.
Despite its popularity, Dharamkot is still a village with minimal motorable roads. The main road which leads to this place from Mcleodganj ends at Trek & Dine. You will have to walk to explore the rest of the village.
I have already discussed monasteries in Dharamshala but Dharamkot offers an array of yoga courses, workshops, meditation sessions, and alternative therapies. There are two famous meditation centers, Tushita and Dhamma Shikhar Vipassana are located in Dharamkot.
Both centers offer long term and short term courses in various disciplines for the seekers of inner peace. They both provide good food and accommodation to the disciples, and they are one of the reasons why so many foreign tourists visit Dharamkot.
You may take up a course (It won’t fit the weekend itinerary) or visit the centers to learn more about meditation and Buddhism. Most courses are 7 to 10 days long and require a stay at the center.
Dhamma Shikhara center offers one or two-day courses for old students but if are new to the discipline then you require at least an accommodation course. You may check out the courses on their websites.
In addition to these two, many individuals and small establishments organize workshops and classes on everything from Reiki to Yoga Nidra. So, if you are into spiritual healing and alternative therapies then you won’t be able to accommodate it all in one weekend for sure!
Trek to Triund from Dharamkot (Or Further Ahead)
If all the eating, meditation and wandering around the village doesn’t satiate the travel bug in you then move on to Triund. You can get all the details about trekking to Triund over a weekend in this previously published article on our website.
You may further trek to cafe snow line (it is a small tea-shop), or Indrahar Pass for much more magnificent views. If you decide to do so, plan for an overnight stay at either snow line or camping at Triund.
Dharamkot to Triund trail is easier but from Triund to Indrahar (snow line falls en route) trail is a little rough. The path is marked and tracked but it gets rocky and steep at some points.
Snowline is famous for the panoramic view Dhauladhars and Indrahar pass. At snow line point you feel closer to Dhauladhars as compared to Triund and it gets better at Indrahar pass.
Locals may help you with any trekking gear that you need. You will get almost everything at Mcleodganj market. Trek operators at Mcleodganj can arrange for your stay at the Triund; they can also carry a tent for you.
Tents are available at the Triund top as well, but during peak season availability of tents can become a problem. It is advisable to pre-book your stay or carry your tent. Refer to the article mentioned above for accommodation options at Triund. There is also a forest rest house at the Triund top which you can book in advance.
Do not forget to check my list of things to carry on hiking trips.
Almost a couple of kilometers hike from Dharamkot will take you to the Gallu Devi temple. If you don’t want to walk, then hire a taxi or auto. A taxi charges around 500 INR from Mcleodganj to go till this point (one-way trip). It is also a spot for an official beginning of the Triund trek. There are a few tea shops and guest houses offering food and stay to trekkers.
From Gallu starts a broad trail to Triund. And a little narrow offshoot from Gallu leads to a serene waterfall, which is devoid of the tourist rush that you encounter at Bhagsu waterfall.
The waterfall, stream, and pools of water are extremely tempting to take a dip. The trail to this waterfall is a little rough, with smooth and slippery patches too. So wear comfortable shoes and carry a walking stick.
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Long Weekend Itinerary for Dharmakot
I have suggested a detailed itinerary for Dharamshala and Mcleodganj in my article ‘Comprehensive guide to Dharamshala’. Please refer to it if you want to club Dharamshala, Mcleodganj, and Dharamkot together in one visit.
In that case, I recommend planning for 5-6 days to explore all three places at an easy pace. Here, I am suggesting an itinerary for only Dharamkot for a long weekend trip.
Day 0, 1: Overnight Volvo and Reach Dharamkot from Mcleodganj
Board the overnight bus from Delhi and reach Mcleodganj the next day early morning.
Reach Dharamkot from Mcleodganj either by a taxi or after a leisurely walk. If you have pre-booked your accommodation, then after checking in head to Trek & Dine for a hearty breakfast. Spend the day exploring the village and relaxing at the many cafes.
You may also check out the yoga schools and alternative therapy classes available throughout for a short-term course that fits your schedule.
If that is what you would like to do, then stay at Dharamkot and enjoy your spiritual awakening. Or else, you can prepare to leave for a trek to Triund next morning.
Day 2: Dharamkot to Triund Trek
Leave early morning, by 5 or 6 am for the trek and come back by evening. Or extend your trek to the snowline and spend the night at Triund / snowline.
Day 3: Come back from Triund
If you have come back from Triund this morning then spend the rest of the day relaxing at your accommodation or in the village. You may also go to the Mcleodganj market for some shopping if you like or visit Bhagsu.
If you have got the energy to do another little hike, then go to the Gallu waterfall, which is almost 2.5 km Gallu temple. Come back by the afternoon, in time to board your evening bus back to Delhi.
Dharamkot is a place that has developed with the travelers who came here. If you like a simple getaway without too much sightseeing and tourist rush, with good gourmet food, some trekking and lots of soaking in the hippie vibe around then Dharamkot is an ideal destination.
Do you still have any questions or suggestions or need any help in planning your trip to Dharamkot? If yes, please feel free to post them in the comments section of this article. You can also take guidance from many travel experts in our DoW Community Forums and discuss your upcoming travel plans for Dharamkot or Mcleodganj in our Instagram account too.
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